Cave Story Creator Reflects On Developing The Indie Classic

By Spencer . February 24, 2011 . 1:04pm


Cave Story, if you never played it before, has the feeling of a Metroid game. The caves Quote runs and jumps in have an inviting feel that encourage players to explore further.


"First and foremost, I always put myself in the player’s shoes. ‘If I were a player how would I think of this? How would I explore?’ and then I take another step," Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya explained when we were reflecting on level design. "After I complete a section I play through it, but if I don’t like it sometimes I would scrap the entire idea."


Cave Story began development ten years ago, long before thousands of people knew what Mimiga Village was. I asked Amaya what he would do differently if he made Cave Story today. He replied with major spoilers, so at Amaya’s request you will need to highlight text to read it.


"If I could change something, if you played a certain way you could, at least, have an option to save other characters such as Toroko," Amaya said. Amaya mentioned players can rescue Curly Brace if they follow a specific chain of events.


"For Curly, I think probably 90% of people who play through Cave Story the first time through they would get the normal ending. When we’ve discussed this the real ending is the hard ending, where you end up going to Blood-stained Sanctuary," Tyrone Rodriguez, Producer, clarified. "There are a bunch of dependencies, you have to do this, you have to do that, but if you miss one you’re out of luck and you don’t get to save Curly."


I thought Amaya’s reply was interesting since some of the character deaths add soul to Cave Story’s story. I compared it to Aerith dying in Final Fantasy VII, as a reason why the game became memorable for fans. Amaya replied, "Yes, that is understandable."




Moving back to present day, Amaya and I discussed his current projects. I asked, "How is the RPG in development going?" Amaya mentioned he was working on a RPG last year, but hasn’t said much about it. "That project has been halted, as of now. I’m creating a game similar to Ikachan! and Cave Story for the iPhone."


What about a sequel to the critically acclaimed Cave Story? "When I first created Cave Story I thought of it as my very last game ever. As I started creating it, I started to gain ideas about more things I would like to create. It’s been that way for ten years. At times, I want to get away from it because I don’t feel I have a lot of new ideas, but I still am considering it."


In other interviews Amaya mentioned games he played when he was a child such as Metroid and Super Metroid inspired him to create Cave Story. Looking at modern games, I asked Amaya what games would inspire him if he were a child today. Amaya thought about the question for quite sometime before responding. "Nowadays, games are amazing. Many people play and enjoy them, but many not feel inspired to create something new. If I had to choose, since I like 2D games I would like to make more 2D games."

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  • Wow its a comparable game to the highly lauded Final fantasy VII with a phenomenal story as well?! I guess I better try to find a way to play Cave Story!

    • they’re both good games in their own genres

      but it’s hard to compare an rpg and a platformer

      also the PC version is free you just need a translation patch

    • Code

      rar, I love both Final Fantasy VII and Cave Story, and I can actually say I’d put both these games on similar tiers >w<'

    • Oh, just to clarify I wasn’t putting Cave Story of FFVII on a tier, it was in reference to events in both titles, which I’ll be careful not to spoil.

  • Code

    Really good interview, always love to hear what Pixel is doing and the background and thoughts he went through when designing Cave Story. I wish I could say I could snap up the 3DS game right away but I may have to wait on it. I’m kind of curious though about the dramatic change in art direction for the 3DS, personally I’m not crazy about it xpx; But I was crazy about it when they gave Balrog eyebrows either >w<'

  • Bakuryukun

    Oh Cave Cave Story how I love you, you are the king of indie games up there with Yume Nikki, The Chzo Mythos and 1213. I would definetly be interested in a Cave Story 2

  • It’s at this point of a game’s life that is a real classic that you have to wonder how far the franchise is taken and how long it will be before it’s milked to death.

    Granted, I don’t have any problems with Cave Story at all; I’m a fan as much as the next interested person here, but I always have problems when someone mentions sequels. Sometimes, they’re right to make. Other times, it might be better to rely on the person’s imagination to go any further.

    To be honest, this is one of those few that I think would qualify for a sequel. There’s really not a lot of back story past what you see in the game. You can create a cogent story from it, of course, but there’s really no definitive behind it…at least with the AGTP original version of the translation. I have the DSiWare version and haven’t completed it yet. Nothing’s told me of any real change in that, though.

    I’d be interesting in a single sequel just as long as it puts things to rest that make general sense. Outside of that, I don’t know if I could go further with something like this. By itself, the game is fine. It has the charm that has gotten itself from a humble indie game to the big picture. Kinda like how a few games are before they hit that barrier of ‘it prints money’.

    I wonder if I’m talking nonsense at this point. :P

    • Code

      rar, I can’t tell if your talking smack about Cave Story’s storyline, or not, but this is dangerous territory Hiryuu-guy~! I’m preparing my super ultra mambo-tango-foxtrot elbow drop just incase omo;;

      Seriously though, I trust Pixel’s digression, a whole lot of love went into Cave Story’s and you can tell that, and I don’t necessary see him as trying to cash in on it, after all the game was free on PC for years before Nicalis had to actually find him to ask him if he’d be interested in a Wiiware/DSi port. Plus I think there’s all kinds of potential story for a sequel, it’s been a long time since I’ve played a game with such rich storyline, characters, and locations >w<'

  • He was working on an RPG??
    Hmph, I don’t care about this Cave Story remake as much anymore lol… I want a new RPG from Pixel! ^^

  • My thoughts on this interview are rather disconnected but…

    1. It’s amazing to hear a creator talk about his work. He sounds like Shigeru Miyamoto. Just the insight into what inspired them, the choices they made…it sounds great.

    2. Cave Story doesn’t need to be a franchise. In many ways the game was perfect the way it was; simple, sweet, charming (warts and all). I’m greatly anticipating his next game, but Cave Story is exactly where it needs to be.

    • I don’t see why Cave Story shouldn’t become a series if the developer feels he can pull it off. It’s not like he’s churning out release after release like Activision.

      It’s also not a game like Killer 7 where the narrative has no where else to go.

    • alundra311

      I agree, it’s already great the way it is. He should just make a new game just as awesome as Cave Story.

  • alundra311

    Amaya and 2d for the win! We need more 2d games like cave story!

    I hope he finishes his rpg game and releases it. I can’t wait for his new games and I do hope he retains his pixel art style for games.

  • JustaGenericUser

    Hmm, reading this article, I wonder if one of the new things in Cave Story 3D is the ability to save that-character-that-didn’t-deserve-to-die.

  • Interesting interview is interesting.

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